Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Jim Collins (OC Narrator), Mel/Johnny, Charles Makley, Harry ‘Pete’ Pierpont, Red Hamilton, George ‘Baby Face’ Nelson
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Angst, Challenge, Drama
Rating (this chapter): G
Claim: For the 12_stories Challenge (Mel/Johnny)
Prompt: T 7; P 7: Loyalty
Prompt Count: (11/12)
General Summary: A newcomer to the Dillinger Gang learns the secrets of their success.
Chapter Summary: The bank job’s success is threatened.
Date Of Completion: May 10, 2012
Date Of Posting: April 6, 2019
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1968
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
Big Bill Delaney
Head Of The
Life was pretty good for the Dillinger Gang. We were still flush with cash and our neighbors weren’t nosy.
It helped that in these days of Depression, people pooled their resources and lived together to cut costs. A bunch of guys livin’ together really didn’t cause any fuss. People just figured that we were savin’ money. It made things easier for us.
Johnny said apartments were easier because people came and went all the time, but house livin’ suited him. Whether he did it to keep his beau in the manner to which he was accustomed, as the sayin’ went, who knew, but Johnny would never put his gang in danger.
We had our fun but the take wouldn’t last forever, so Johnny and Charles began plannin’. We were going to hit a bank on Summer Street. It wasn’t gonna be easy, but good jobs never are. And banks were gettin’ smarter.
Mel listened to our plannin’ sessions but offered nothing, stayin’ quiet as he listened. Johnny had diverted Nelson for now, but I wondered if he could be held off for long.
We finalized our plans and made sure our guns were ready. Mel stayed quiet, but I got the impression that he didn’t miss a thing. I figured that he had to be smart, bein’ a college boy and all.
We laid low until the day of the robbery. That day we woke with new energy, knowing that the show was on.
When I passed Johnny and Mel’s room on my way back from the bathroom, I could see inside as the door was ajar. Johnny was sittin’ on the bed in his undershirt and boxers, Mel kneelin’ between his lover’s legs. He was dressed the same way and cupping his lover’s face as Johnny looked up adoringly, his hands on Mel’s hips.
It shook me a little. Not because of two guys together, as I’d seen my share in prison, but at the devotion I saw. A man was lucky to get that with a woman, much less another guy.
I could feel the excitement in my gut as I got dressed. It was always the same before a job. And this one was a little different. The usual method was to all travel in the same car, but Johnny decided that was too conspicuous. I was taking a second car with Charles and meetin’ the rest a few blocks from the bank.
It was my turn to whip up breakfast. Nerves would be high so nothing heavy. Appetites would be ravenous after the job if all went well.
Down in the kitchen I cut up bananas and put them in a big bowl. I put two large boxes of cereal on the tables, Wheaties and cornflakes, and added a bowl of sugar and a bottle of milk. Orange juice and coffee were ready as the gang started to come downstairs, laughing and joking but with an undercurrent of jitters. Each man chose the cereal he wanted and scooped the bananas and sugar on top while adding the milk.
Everyone laughed and joked, like I said, but it was more of getting ourselves ready. Each guy has his own way of things. Pete would grumble and Charles and Red would crack jokes. I joined in, and Johnny did the same. I didn’t know what Homer would do. He was still in bed. That influenza can really knock ya for a loop.
I noticed that Mel was quiet as usual but also a little tense. I could tell by the lines around his eyes and mouth, his whole body taut. He looked worried, but who could blame him? Jobs like this were always risky.
I wondered what it was like to be the one left to wait. Usually it was wives or girlfriends who did the waitin’ but not all the time. Homer would be waitin’ along with Mel, and there were always friends and fellow yeggs who had to wait, too.
Me? I just hoped that all would go off without a hitch.
Charles and I felt a few minutes after Red, Johnny and Pete. Charles had said, “You drive, kid,” and I was happy to do it. I liked the action but I could see myself bein’ a wheelman someday. If I could be half as good as Red I’d consider myself lucky.
I drove carefully. No use gettin’ pulled over by a copper for drivin’ too fast. Charles checked his handgun. In case his tommygun jammed, he would use it as back-up. Attention to detail was a Dillinger Gang trait, and a successful one.
I parked a few blocks from the bank. We’d make our way through the back alleys and meet the others. Charles was in the lead. Once we searched the alley close to the bank, Charles said, “Wait here.” He walked out casually, his gun beneath his coat. I waited for his signal when a hand clamped on my shoulder.
I yelped and spun around, my gun cocked. “Mel?!” I gasped. “What are you doin’ here?”
He looked impeccably turned-out in his black greatcoat, charcoal-gray suit and matching fedora. He was also grim and I wondered what was up.
“How’d you get here?”
“I took a streetcar.” He grabbed my arm. “Where’s everyone?”
“Out on the street. As soon as I get the signal from Charles I’m going out.”
“No!” At my surprised look he said, “I received word that Nelson is on his way.”
“What?! He’ll botch it up for sure!”
“No doubt.” Mel looked around the corner. “If Nelson shows up, he’ll be a loose cannon and get you all killed.”
“Oh, I got no doubt of that, Special Agent Purvis.”
Mel smiled briefly. “You’ll have to get Johnny to abort this job.”
“Right.” As I started to leave the alley, Mel grabbed me again. “Wha…?” He pointed out to the street. I swore under my breath. “Nelson!”
“Yes, it appears he has arrived.”
“He’s gonna fuck everything up!”
“Most likely.” Mel tightened his grip. “We must be careful. If you go charging out there you would be as bad as Nelson.”
“Yeah.” I bit my lip.” What are we gonna do?”
Mel studied the scene. “We can head Nelson off.”
“How? He’s clear across the street.”
Mel tugged me back into the shadows. “If we hurry we can use the back alleys on this side and cross the street farther down and work our way around.”
I tucked my gun under my greatcoat. “Let’s go.”
“I’d better go alone.”
“You’d better stick to the plan.” Mel took off.
I was so surprised by what was goin’ on that I froze with indecision for a minute, then shook it off. I went after him. Mel was a brave man, but goin’ up against that mad dog was not a winnin’ poker hand.
By the time I reached the alley where Nelson and Mel were I could hear what they were sayin’ as I crept closer.
“Just stay where you are, Nelson.” Mel had his old Bureau gun leveled at Nelson. It was just a handgun and no match for Baby Face’s tommygun but Mel had the drop on him. “Don’t muck this up.”
Nelson’s smile was sneering. “You’ve got some nerve, copper. Dillinger must be soft in the head to bring you into his bed.”
“Think what you like, but you’re not joining Johnny and his gang. Stay right here until the job’s over.”
Nelson’s tommygun was held loosely beside his leg and he started to bring it up. I stepped out of the shadows and startled him as he saw my tommygun. Mel grabbed that moment to lunge forward and tackle him.
Nelson squawked as Mel succeeded in knocking him to the pavement. Nelson screamed, “You dirty copper! I’ll blow your fuckin’ head off!”
I couldn’t get a clear shot. I wouldn't mind blowin’ away Nelson but Johnny would be a tad peeved if I blew a hole in Mel.
They rolled around in the dirt and Nelson tried to play dirty but Mel was no pushover. He prevented Nelson’s nut punch and laid a haymaker on Baby Face’s glass jaw. Nelson ended up dazed, which was fine by me. Shuttin’ Jimmy Nelson’s yap was a blessin’.
I ran forward. “You okay, Mel?”
“Yes.” Mel got to his feet shakily. “I suppose now the mystery of Johnny’s ‘Mystery Man’ is revealed.”
“Good things those sirens covered Nelson’s howls.”
“Yes.” Mel checked the quiet street as Johnny and the gang were still inside the bank. “Thank heavens for fire trucks.”
Mel pointed to the bank. “You had better get to work.”
“What about Nelson?”
Mel smiled at the yegg. “Don’t worry about him.”
This time I obeyed Mel and worked my way back around to the bank through the alleys. I nodded at Pete, who was look-out, and also looked like he want to poke me in the jaw. He might still get that chance.
Inside the bank, Charles and Johnny had things under control, shootin’ daggers at me. I took up my position and as we marched the hostages out, Johnny hissed, “You’ve got some explainin’ to do, kid.”
“I know.” I looked out at the street. Cops were beginnin’ to show up. “I had a good reason.”
I hated bein’ on John Dillinger’s bad side but I didn’t have much choice, at least not for now.
As soon as we dropped off the hostages the questions began. Pete had gone with Charles so it was just Johnny, Red and me.
“Where the fuck were you?” Johnny demanded from the front seat as Red drove.
“Makin’ sure your boyfriend didn’t get his brains blown out by Baby Face.”
“What?” Johnny turned around. “What are you talking about?”
I told him the whole story and watched him grow whiter with every word. When I finished he said, “We gotta go back and get him!”
“Relax, John, Mel can take care of things,” said Red. “He was Hoover’s No. 1 agent not so long ago, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.” Johnny still didn’t look happy. “Step on it, willya, Red?”
We made it back to the safehouse and Johnny nearly bolted out of the car. He was inside the house before Red cut the engine. Red and I lugged in the loot.
“Right here, Johnny!” Mel appeared at the head of the stairs. He started down while Johnny ran up, throwing his arms around his lover.
One thing about John Dillinger: when he loved, he loved hard.
"What were you doin’, honey, takin’ on crazy Nelson by yourself?”
Charles and Pete came in and we all saw Mel smile at me. “I had help.”
Johnny turned and smiled at me, too. I knew I was in. He turned back to Mel. “How’d you know Nelson was going to be there?”
“Piquette called and told me had a reliable tip. I knew if Nelson crashed the party you all could get hurt or worse so I set out to warn you.”
“Mmm, loyal to the end.”
Pete grimaced at the jab. He had questioned Mel’s loyalty more than once.
“How’d you take care of Nelson?” I asked curiously.
“Handcuffed him to a pole in the alley. The police should have him in custody by now.”
“Wonderful,” Johnny laughed.
“I’m afraid I’m no longer your Mystery Man,” Mel said ruefully.
Johnny hugged him. “We’ll leave town. We’ve been pushin’ our luck as it is.”
Mel smiled. “I’ve always got your back.” He kissed Johnny. Not exactly a fairy tale ending, but it would do.
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